Target: Forest Hills Central High School Principal, Terry Uruquhart
Goal: Condemn Forest Hills principal for refusing to report an alleged rape, and demand he apologize to the victim and her family
In a disturbing case that echoes the now-infamous Steubenville rape trial, a young high school student at Forest Hills Central High School in Michigan was told by her principal not to report an alleged rape because the attacker was the star of the school’s basketball team.
The girl came forward to a teacher to report that another student had raped her in a soundproof band room on school property. However, when the teacher then informed the principal, Terry Uruquhart, of what had occurred, he refused to take action. In fact, Uruquhart went so far as to tell the victim and her family not to go to the police as this could “jeopardize [the rapist’s] chance of getting recruited for a college [basketball] team.”
Worried that the rapist could sexually assault someone else, the victim and her parents wisely chose to ignore Uruquhart’s request and informed local authorities. However, before police took any action, a different student came forward with charges of sexual assault against the same attacker. Meanwhile, the first victim was ignored by her school’s authorities and was forced to attend classes with her attacker while he walked free. On top of this, the girl soon found herself the victim of vicious rumors and cyberbullying by classmates calling her a “liar” and a “slut.” When her parents informed the school of this, Principal Uruquhart once again did nothing.
Eventually, the rapist was charged with a single count of misdemeanor assault and battery – a lesser charge than rape – and was very briefly suspended from playing with the rest of his basketball team.
The school now faces a lawsuit from National Women’s Law Center who have stated that the high school “completely ignored its legal responsibility to address student-on-student sexual harassment” and that “the school’s failure to address the harassment sends a chilling message to students that they should remain silent in the face of sexual assault and cannot count on their school to provide a safe learning environment.”
Condemn Forest Hills Central High School and Principal Uruquhart’s utter failure to extend assistance and protection to the victim of this sexual assault, and demand that the principal issue an apology to her and her family.
Dear Principal Terry Uruquhart,
The recent story of a high school student who was raped by a fellow student and athlete at Forest Hills Central High School has revealed yet another instance of victim-shaming and protecting the attacker.
Regardless of the attacker’s status as a star athlete, he should not be excused from facing adequate punishment for his crimes. However, Forest Hills Central High School not only failed to punish this rapist, they also failed his victim by refusing to help her. This is completely unacceptable.
Public victim-shaming and refusing to investigate the victim’s allegations leads only to other potential victims remaining silent. It discourages others from reporting attacks and allows rapists to walk free and possibly attack again.
A high school should be a place of safety, and its staff and administrators should extend assistance to any student who needs it. By asking a rape victim to remain silent in order to protect her attacker, Forest Hills Central High School has failed in every imaginable way.
Out of respect for this victim, I demand that you immediately apologize to her and her family. She should not have to suffer even more by remaining silent.
Furthermore, I ask that you ensure that a shameful occurrence like this never occurs again in the future. Offer protection to students, especially those who become the victims of sexual assault, and never attempt to silence those that most need help.
[Your Name Here]
photo credit: Joe Mabel via Wikimedia Commons